LAGRANGEVILLE – It was familiar territory for Hope Kehoe, even if the opponent was different.
After losing to Bronxville in the Section 1, Class B title game in her freshman and sophomore seasons, the senior found herself in the biggest moment of her career on Saturday against Irvington with the sectional title on the line at Arlington High School.
Taking a penalty kick in the 77th minute with the game scoreless, Kehoe fought through her nerves and buried her attempt on the right side to score what would be the winning goal in a 1-0 victory.
For Kehoe and Albertus Magnus’ six seniors, that goal had been coming, not just from their play that game but also from the previous three seasons.
“I’m pretty confident when I go up there,” Kehoe said of her goal. “But I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my entire life; I didn’t want to let my team down.”
The second-seeded Falcons dominated possession for most of the game against the top-seeded Bulldogs, who were undefeated coming into the game.
“Our team got us to where we are,” Albertus Magnus sophomore Danielle LaRochelle said. “We play better when the ball is on the ground; once we got the ball on the ground, we were able to keep possession.”
For Irvington, it was a bitter way to end what has been a dream season, which included winning the program’s first league title in over 15 years, under first-year head coach Pat DiBenedetto.
“They didn’t do anything wrong; all season long, they did everything that was expected of them,” he said. “It’s amazing when you come from August 17th to this date, you look back, it’s unbelievable.”
Player of the game: Danielle LaRochelle, Albertus Magnus. The forward’s speed generated many chances for the Falcons all game. She drew the penalty on which Kehoe scored.
“She is so dangerous, she’s a handful for defenses,” Albertus Magnus head coach Tim Gavan said. “She just wreaks havoc, and that’s why she’s successful.”
Turning point: With 3:30 left and overtime looming, a long ball was punted into the Irvington box. Goalkeeper Sarina Stein collided with LaRochelle in the box going for the ball, and a penalty was called. Kehoe scored on the penalty kick to seal the win.
Stat line: For Albertus Magnus, Kehoe had a goal and Kaitlyn Kreider made five saves. For Irvington, Stein made four saves.
Quotable: “I don’t even think you could put into words how much this means for my team and I,” Kehoe said. “The seniors on this team, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more dedicated group of girls. I could not have been more proud to captain them.”